Sensors are used for many critical functions on a production line
Published on : Saturday 04-09-2021
Sameer Gandhi, Managing Director, OMRON Automation India.
What are the roles sensors are performing in the field of industrial automation today?
Sensors are one of the essential elements in the smart manufacturing chain rendering intelligence in true sense. They are the devices enabling detection, analysation, measurement of varied parameters and changes on the production sites like length, height, position, appearance, temperature thus helping a lot in creation of a sturdier predictive maintenance solution. Omron has a wide range of sensors in its portfolio: Vision, Photoelectric, Fibre, Displacement/Measurement, Contact, Pressure, Ultrasonic, Condition Monitoring, OCRs, Rotary Encoders to name just a few.
Cheaper, low-cost sensors are getting popular. Is there a trade-off here and the implications?
Sensors are used for many critical functions on a production line. They're like the 'eyes' 'ears' of the control systems. Any single sensor failure can bring the production line to an abrupt halt. Also, proper functioning of the sensors may also be critical to the safety of workers on the line. Hence, while adopting 'low cost' sensors, one needs to bear in mind that quality and reliability should not be compromised.
At the other end, sensors are getting smarter. What exactly is smart about smart sensors? Is it really smart to opt for a smart sensor?
They are called smart because they not only sense the ambient information/data but also perform pre-defined functions (read data processing) before passing it on to the next device in the smart manufacturing/IoT chain over network or internet. This leads to generation of more accurate and automated results rendering them very useful for varied monitoring and control applications. The data processing ability, provided by a microprocessor, is what differentiates a smart sensor from a normal sensor. Such smart sensors can also help in predictive diagnostics and alert for maintenance. For example, dust accumulation on sensor windows is a common problem in the industry and this requires the maintenance staff to perform cleaning operations on a regular basis. But smart sensors can detect dust accumulation and increase light intensity to compensate for the same as well as alert the control system when it's time to clean. Thus, saving valuable time and effort. Data from Smart sensors is also useful for AI/ML. OMRON has a strong Smart sensor portfolio that are helping save several maintenance and production downtime man-hours at various production sites.
Sameer Gandhi has over 30 years of experience in marketing, sales, operations, service and managing profit centres in a multi-cultural matrix structure for product and project businesses across several industry verticals like F&B, pulp & paper, cement, mining, minerals, material handling, automotive, etc. He has experience of Middle-eastern and Indian sub-continent markets besides India.